Movie Review: The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape

In the middle of WWII, the German military was not especially enthused with the idea of tying up resources guarding troublesome POWs who kept wanting to escape. Now, to my mind, it would probably be more logical to separate all the troublesome prisoners from each other, but instead, the Germans decided to lump them all together in a special high-security POW camp. Probably not too surprising when you gather together dozens of escape artists, they end up orchestrating, well, a great escape. . . .

I rewatched this movie, which is loosely based on a true story, over Labor Day weekend with my family after not having seen it in well over a decade. It’s, of course, a classic war/action movie, but I must confess, I was pleased with how well it held up. It’s over 55 years old but doesn’t feel dated in the way many other movies from the same time period do.

Certainly, its all-star cast is one of the biggest draws. Several of the actors put in what I consider some of their finest performances, including Steve McQueen as Hilts “The Cooler King” and Charles Bronson as “The Tunnel King.” But Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Donald Pleasance, and James Garner do great work, as well, as some of the other escape artists.

The pacing is also superb. This is a long movie–it clocks in at nearly 3 hours–but it is never boring. The movie does a great job of balancing the intrinsic humor of some of the characters’ actions as they plot and scheme their way out of the camp with the suspense of knowing the consequences if they are caught. And, of course, once they fly the coop, the resulting action scenes as they try to evade capture are top-notch.

If you’ve never watched this movie before, do yourself a favor and check it out pronto! And if you have seen it before, it’s definitely worth revisiting. It’s not a feel-good movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a very good one.

Have you seen The Great Escape? What’s your favorite WWII movie? What’s your favorite classic 1960s movie? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog to find more information on any of these items or to place holds.

Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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